Writing Sibling Relationships

Sibling relationships are widely diverse and very dependent on many things, including the age ranges, personalities, amount of necessary (and forced) interaction, societal values, and the way the family functions as a whole, so there there aren’t necessarily any wrong way to write siblings so long as the reader can see why those siblings grew into the relationship they did.

The most consistent characteristic of a sibling relationship is probably the most traditional one:

Siblings annoy each other to death, are more abrupt, forthright, frustrated, high-strung, and blunt with each other than anyone else in their lives, push each other’s buttons and get on each other’s nerves.

But no matter how much they torment each other, siblings who love each other, love unconditionally, and will pay back anyone who hurts their sibling, tenfold.

Here are some things to think about when developing your siblings relationships…

1. Age difference. 

Siblings with large age gaps may be protective over each other, but they often don’t have close relationships simply because the barrier between maturity levels is very wide while young. This may even out in older teenage years and adulthood though, once they can relate to each other as friends as well as siblings.

2. Communication.

Negative: Often, siblings argue. Some siblings argue a lot, with very high tempers and biting words. You say things to your siblings you wouldn’t say to anyone else because you have fewer boundaries with them, and higher levels of tension.

Positive: Often, siblings have their own unique way of communicating. They’re accustom to the way each other thinks and can predict and interpret like nobody’s business. Other people might mistake one sibling’s voice for the other even if they’re vastly different simply because siblings tend to speak very similarly to each other.

Many siblings also communicate emotions and thoughts in ways which seem nonsensical to other people. They have their own code words and inside jokes which they can’t remember deciding upon but somehow pick up on anyways.

3. Physical affection.

Physical affection between siblings variety widely. Some siblings are barely physically affectionate, and might exchange a hug after long absences, some are moderately physically affectionate, with lots of pats on the back and hair ruffles and poking, and some are very physically affectionate to the point of snuggling and cheek kisses and holding hands.

This does not necessarily correspond with how close of friends the siblings are, and has a lot to do with the social expectations put on them by their family, mixed with personal preferences.

4. Personal boundaries.

Some siblings share clothes, steal each other’s food, trade chores, borrow belongings, split allowances, etc, where as other siblings keep their space and time highly regulated.

5. Total family dynamics. 

Interaction with parents and upbringing can influence sibling relationships in a variety of ways. Examples:

  • Siblings in high conflict and high stress family environments may not have the opportunity to develop strong, healthy relationships with each other.
  • Siblings with competitive parents who give out love based on achievement are more likely to compete among themselves.
  • Siblings who are encouraged to be individualistic and independent may form healthy but weaker relationships with each other if they have little in common.
  • Siblings in a supportive environment where healthy family interaction and activity is encouraged will likely have the most healthy, strong relationships with their siblings.

Go here for more tips on writing various kinds of relationships!

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